Monday, September 17, 2018

TTT: 2018 Fall TBR

With the delightful bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish moving on to other things, TTT is now hosted by just one of their contingent, That Artsy Reader Girl .  If you want to quadruple the size of your TBR AND find a bunch of great book blogs to follow head on over and check it out!

The topic this week is: Books on your fall TBR.

This is always a mildly hilarious type of post for me to write. Not just because the idea of only having ten books on my TBR is so adorably off by a factor of ten or more, but because the idea of me following my own reading plan is just not believable. I've tried. I suck.

That being said, here's what I'd really like to get to soon. It's a mix of upcoming titles, recent titles, and backlist titles. Mostly YA with a tiny bit of MG and adult reads in there too. In other words, pretty  reflective of my reading habits overall. If I don't read THESE exact 10 books this fall, I'll read books like them.

1. Breakout by Kate Messner. I've been wanting to read this since she was blogging about pieces of her process with it. I love her writing, and I love the work she does to connect teachers and authors, so I really want to support her books. It's in my classroom library. I talked a friend into getting it, and she really enjoyed it. But I haven't read it yet.

2. Vicious. Victoria Schwab has been tweeting reminders that if we started a re-read of Vicious right now, we'd be done just in time for the second book in the set. I am fully planning on going to see her on tour in less than two weeks, and I will buy and have her sign the book then. So it would indeed be terrific if I were to re-read the book in time for that.

3. Give Me Some Truth. I loved his If We Ever Get Out of Here. I finally started reading this more recent book, which I got at ALAN in November, last month. It has been showing up on my email signature as "currently reading" for WEEKS now. But I haven't actually picked it up since that first time. Not because I didn't like it--I DID really like it. But I got distracted.

4. Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor. I am really hoping I can get the most out of this without re-reading Strange the Dreamer, because it's a big ass book, and I have small ass time.

5. What if It's Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera. Because it's by Becky Albertalli AND Adam Silvera.

6. Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley. It sounds good. It has a rather cute dauschund on the cover. It would qualify for my (very neglected) Pop Sugar Reading Challenge as a book with an animal in the title. And I've had it checked out from the library for nine weeks. I just renewed it for the fourth and final time, so now I have three weeks to actually read the damn thing.

7. She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick. Um. This one already went through all four renewals. I had it on my shelf for 12 weeks. I did not turn it in when I brought back all my due and overdue library books because dammit, I'm going to read it.

8. Resistance by Jennifer A. Nielsen. I liked The False Prince. I loved A Night Divided. I'm so excited she's written another middle grade modern historical fiction!

9. Being the Change by Sara K. Ahmed. This is THE book teachers are talking about right now.

10. Dry by Neal and Jarod Shusterman. I think Shusterman just keeps getting better and better, and I got to hear him talk about the idea for this book when I went to an author event last winter, so I'm super excited to read this father-son effort.

Here's to some happy reading this fall!

Monday, September 10, 2018

TTT: Hidden Gems

With the delightful bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish moving on to other things, TTT is now hosted by just one of their contingent, That Artsy Reader Girl .  If you want to quadruple the size of your TBR AND find a bunch of great book blogs to follow head on over and check it out!

The topic this week is: Hidden Gems

So I did what any other completely normal, not at all obsessive reader would do. I went to my  Goodreads "Favorites" shelf of 156 books, reverse sorted them by number of reviews, and picked the first ten that aren't entirely idiosyncratic (Oregon For All Seasons, an out of print travel book from the mid 1970s that my dad did the photography for) or reflect a dated sense of my taste (A Vein of Riches, a midcentury unionization novel that anchors around the love of a father and son for the same woman, which in retrospect is pretty icky, but seemed SO ROMANTIC to me when I was 14). 

And here they are.

Loser's Bracket, which I've already reviewed here on Falconer's Library. Chris Crutcher is so amazing, but because he's been writing so long, I feel like people think he's just some 80s author. Nope. He's pushing 80, but he still gets it SO RIGHT when writing about strong kids from tough backgrounds.

The Digger series is unexpectedly adorably for a gritty fantasy. Or it's unexpectedly gritty for an adorable fantasy. Either way, I would love to know more people who've read this black and white graphic novel about a wombat who ends up in the wrong place.

Speaking of graphic novel/comics series that everyone should be talking about, but nobody is, Princeless is the most swashbuckling, joyful, feminist celebration and parody of princess stories that ever could be.  Do yourself a favor and start at the first volume, then keep going!

Ball Don't Lie was the second book by Matt de la Peña I ever read, and it holds a special place in my heart. Between my professional and my personal life, I have a strong tendency to root for the kid with a shitty family background, the kid without roots or support. And I'm not a sports person myself, but it's obvious that the characters Sticky plays ball with are people de la Peña knows well, and I'm also a sucker for strong secondary characters.

I strongly suspect that were I to read The Singing Tree for the first time today, I'd roll my eyes at the role of women, at the patronizing tone taken towards Jews, and the rampant pro-Hungary themes. But I read this when I was eight. And nine. And ten. And so on. And what I loved, and will always love, is the strength of Kate's character and will, the believable and unshakeable family love portrayed, the age appropriate analysis of how war warps people, whether they are shell shocked survivors or those on the homefront being taught that The Enemy is trash. And then there's the novel's strongest theme, that of love and grace enduring despite all of that. If I had to choose just one book from my childhood, this one might be it. 

Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal is delightful, charming, creative, and given her recent death, incredibly poignant.  

Symphony for the City of the Dead hits a bunch of my weaknesses: Russia--specifically the siege of Leningrad--classical music, and narrative nonfiction. I was nervous about tackling such a big book (456 pages), but it was fascinating and never dragged. M. T. Anderson's brain must be such a cool place to live. He never writes the same kind of book twice, and he never messes them up.

Rebound is the prequel to the Newbery award winning novel in verse The Crossover. I wasn't convinced we needed a prequel. I was wrong. It's just as good as the first book.

Lily & Dunkin are two middle school kids dealing with a lot. Lily is transgender, no matter how hostile her dad is to the idea, and she wants to start hormone therapy before she goes through puberty. Dunkin is new in town, in denial about a family tragedy and about his own mental health. Despite that description, this is a positive, joyful book. 

A woman and a cyborg fall in love, and it's not trite. He She and It is a book I always associate with The Handmaid's Tale. I read them close together, when they were both "the latest" book by steadfastly intellectual feminist authors. Both books delved into science fiction in a way that made the storylines more compelling than I'd found the authors' previous work, without taking away from their ferocity of mind.  I also love Piercy's City of Darkness, City of Light, set during the French Revolution. No cyborgs. 

Other books I adore that have fewer than 10,000 reviews:
The River Why, Small Wonder, Boy 21, The Woman Who Walked Into Doors, The Wrong Mother, Ramona Blue, The 57 Bus, Winterdance, How It Went Down, WitnessNightjohn, Death Comes for the Fat Man, Passage to Freedom, Bird, Home at Last, Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake, The Dunderheads


August in Review

My Reading

# of books read:
Seven. Can this be right? Quite the drastic change from July's 24.

Best(s):(In which I tell you all my five star reads and make up categories so they each win something)
Best Debut by Amazing Blogger: A Thousand Perfect Notes
Best Short Story Collection: Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances
Best Graphic Novel: Saga Vol. 8

Challenges progress:
Library Love: +6, so 99/60.
Beat the Backlist: +4, so 102/100--Woo hoo!
Goodreads: 124/52
Popsugar: +1, so 28/52
Discussion Challenge: +0, so still 6/10 In addition to my weak reading month, I hardly read any blogs, and that makes me sad. I still want to plow through a bunch of people's discussion posts!

Bookish Events and Happenings

None. Well, except that a friend and colleague also applied to be the recommender of the month at our library, so I feel like an influencer for sure. And I took a look at the upcoming author events at Powell's and WOW. V. E. Schwab, Ellen Hopkins, Laini Taylor, Kwame Alexander, Walter Mosley are all coming in the next six weeks. I want to go to Schwab's and Taylor's, and I hope to get a group together from school to go see Alexander. And I applied again to be a CYBILS judge, but won't find out for another 2 weeks. So there's a lot on the horizon, but not much happened in August.

On the Blog

Very little. I finally got around to my Mid Year Freakout Tag entry, and I participated in my first ever Picture Book 10 x 10, which is more of a teacher thing than a book blogger thing? I think? 


This is clearly where my time went this month. At the beginning of the month my daughter and I spent a few days at the beach with a friend of mine. The next week, the family went on a short road trip to the southern end of our state, where we breathed smoke from the forest fires, walked in the redwoods, introduced our stuffed reindeer to the animals at Wildlife Safari, played in the dunes, and were mind-boggled at the Oregon Vortex. I got very little reading done, because I can't read in the car, and my husband can't handle noise so audiobooks were out too. My husband's birthday is in August, and we went on a mini-hike nearby, then used the beer tasting gift card I got him for Christmas. There was a family dinner with the in-laws, moving my sister into her own place, and lots and lots of time spent prepping for the new school year. Inservice was the third week in August, and school started the last week in August. All of that means hardly any reading, and even less writing.

As much as I wish I'd done more reading and writing, it was a really good month.

My monthly summaries are always linked to the Monthly Wrap-Up Round-Up on Feed Your Fiction Addiction, along with many other terrific blogs' monthly reflections.  Nicole usually puts together a fun scavenger hunt giveaway too, so go check it out!

Monday, August 13, 2018

TTT: Favorite Blog Posts

With the delightful bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish moving on to other things, TTT is now hosted by just one of their contingent, That Artsy Reader Girl .  If you want to quadruple the size of your TBR AND find a bunch of great book blogs to follow head on over and check it out!

The topic this week is: Favorite Book Blogs or Bookish Websites.

Well, my favorite book blogs are already listed in the sidebar, and I wouldn't feel very good about whittling it down to ten publicly. So I've put together a list of ten terrific articles and blog posts that I've saved on my "Bookworm" board on Pinterest over the years.  For the most part these are NOT from book blogs. My list looked really boring, so I dropped in images I'd saved on the same board as well.  Enjoy exploring!

  • Infographic from the UVA Library system about the effects of reading, in the dramatically dire style of a drug use warning.
Both my wife (INFP) and I (INFJ) are HSPs, that is, Highly Sensitive People. Lately my wife has been feeling a little eXtra Sensitive. Cartoon from
  • I loved the TTT prompt three years ago in which we each picked the assigned reading for an imaginary course, and this one on Saving the World was one of my favorites.


  • In one of my favorite teaching blogs, one writer shared how a pre-service teacher figured out a delightfully sneaky way to upgrade her TBR.
Can't get out of bed. Send help... or books. Yeah, just books.

  • Another fascinating infographic about world-wide reading habits.
    We share Happiness!
    Professional Library Literature :

  • A recording of Neil Gaiman reading aloud his short story "The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury," in honor of Bradbury's 91st birthday.

Quit reading? PREPOSTEROUS!

We're doing the annual "Summer is almost over so we better go do something!" frenzy, which occurs simultaneously with the "School is almost starting so I am all fired up to do a bunch of research and work and organization!" frenzy--SO I may not be around all that much for a week or two. But I'll try to check in when I can. Enjoy these summer days, those of you in the northern hemisphere.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

"Mid"-Year Freakout Tag 2018's mid August, which means I'm RIGHT ON SCHEDULE for the mid-year book freak-out tag, right? The entire summer counts as the middle of the year, right?

Well, we had that TTT that was about favorites so far back in June, so I didn't want to jump right in with a similar post. That's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it.

Then again, one of my oldest and dearest friends gave me a birthday gift that featured the saying, "The only cardio I get is running late," so there's a tiny chance it's just me.

Image result for running late meme

But enough about me. Let's talk about books. I'm probably supposed to just choose one for each category, but I read a lot of books, so I'm giving myself 3 slots for each. I tried to not feature any book more than once, and to only highlight books I love--e.g., if a book I didn't care for had a gorgeous cover, I found a book I love with a gorgeous cover to feature instead. (Of course, this didn't work for "biggest disappointment.")

I'm pretty sure nobody would ever look at the books I tend to read and say, "Oh, she loves true crime and angsty novels about unhappy British women," but there you have it--my absolute favorites so far.


Three masterful sequels by three very different, but quite amazing, authors. Well, technically Rebound is a prequel, but it still counts, right?


These three are all in my classroom library, but I haven't read them yet. I've heard such great things about all of them! Why don't I have more time for reading?


Laini Taylor, Becky Albertalli, Adam Silvera, and Patrick Ness are all auto-read authors for me. I don't need to know what the book is about, just that they wrote it, and I'm in. So all of these are high on my list, even though I'm not super up on new releases that aren't sequels. 


  • Orphan Island
  • Let's Talk About Love
  • Funny Girls: Funniest. Stories. Ever!

Caveat: I have no beef with people who loved these. They just didn't do it for me. I wanted more story and less allegory from Orphan Island. Let's Talk About Love was too rom-com cutesy for me. Those two both also fell victim to the dreaded over-anticipation problem. Funny Girls maybe oversold it self a tiny bit with that subtitle.


  • Nest
  • Evil Librarian
  • The Steel Seraglio (British title: The City of Silk and Steel. Or maybe it's the other way around? I mean, do most Americans know what a seraglio is? I didn't.)

Nest surprised me because it was achingly honest and refused to tie everything up neatly at the end, even though it's a middle grade novel. Evil Librarian just caught my eye on the library shelf, and was as delightfully funny as the title implied. Steel Seraglio was "assigned" reading for a reading retreat I went to, and I couldn't believe I'd never heard of it when I realized how rich and wonderful it is.


I've only read the one book by each of these, so I can't say they are auto-buys yet, but I will definitely be looking forward to their next books.


Oh, my scrappy little nobodies. (Sorry, Anna Kendrick.) A white foster child in modern day eastern Washington, a sentient robot, and a 19th century black zombie killer.  I really admire how these three overcome traumatic pasts--and presents--while continuing to grow as people. Or robots, as the case may be. 


The first two could have qualified for best sequels (but I had to make decisions) or best character (but they weren't new to me this year). Digger is the most adorably weird graphic novel I've read in...ever? It's high fantasy starring a wombat.


Alfonso Jones is one of the best Black Lives Matter themed books I've read, and one of the best graphic novels I've read, and one of the best books that blends contemporary fiction with nonfiction historical information. It's painful reading Amy Krouse Rosenthal's happy, loving book knowing how little time she had left in this world. And the second novella in Queens of Fennbirn moves inexorably towards its tragic end, breaking your heart the entire time.

I haven't seen any, but I'm excited about The Hate U Give, and I still want to see Love, Simon and Don't Worry; He Won't Get Far on Foot, the Joaquin Phoenix/Gus Van Sant film based on the memoir of local icon John Callahan.

All very different, all very beautiful, all done by someone who seems to have actually read the damn book.


Purple Hibiscus because I want to read more Adichie, and also because a Popsugar prompt is a book with your favorite color in the title. Trigger Warnings because I love Gaiman's short works, and because I've had it out from the library for maximum renewals and need to get it turned in by Monday. Breakout because I love Messner's writing as well as what she does for students, schools, teacher-writers, etc. 

Phew! There you have 27 books I love, 6 books I hope to love, and a measly 3 books I didn't. It's always so interesting doing these reflective posts, and realizing which books have actually stuck with me over time. I feel confident that this really reflects the best of what I've read in 2018. Well, other than the 16 other books I gave more that 4 stars to that didn't make this list...

Happy reading! If you decide to give any of these a try, let me know what you think.